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May 21, 2016

The (DREADED) End of the School Year

It's the end of the school year!

Every year, I forget the torture that is THE END OF THE YEAR!

(A Walking Dead Meme--- for those of you that LOVE TWD as much as I!)

Here are my top 10 reasons why I hate the end of the school year:

Getting organized is a perpetual goal that defies me each and every year.  My grandiose plans of putting everything in "its" spot laughs in my face as the year comes to an end. 

Oh, why did I wait so long to gather up grades? The last grading period always catches me off guard! Here it is, three weeks until school is out, and I need 4 major grades, 16 daily grades, and 3 glasses of wine!

"But the test is over."
Yes. This is what I hear every time I pass out work for the students to complete in the last few weeks of school.  I don't know where they got the idea that school was over the day after the test, but I'm sure the pounding in my head is from all the times I've had to argue that case.

All those "original" copy pages in that giant stack are begging to be sorted and filed so they can be found easily next year. Why didn't I just do it as I went???

My kids are finally good at turning in their papers, signaling they need to go to the bathroom, and completing those problems.  The sinking sensation that next year's crop won't know ANYTHING seriously causes a heart palpitation. 

OK, so I have to pack up EVERYTHING??? Even though I always plan on doing a good job of packing up my stuff- JUST IN CASE I GET MOVED- I know that most likely I'll be super exhausted in the last few moments before I'm officially free for the summer and will end up just emptying my desk drawers into a giant box along with a hodge podge of other things that I found stashed in dark recesses of my room. 

All that documentation is due at the end of the year. ENOUGH SAID.

INSANE, I TELL YOU! When did it become okay to open a bag of M&Ms and chow down on them in the middle of the lesson? And then blame the act of running around the classroom on the sugar found in the M&Ms? I swear I have good classroom management--- just don't come checking in the last couple of weeks of school!

Nine months of making 22 other human beings do what 99% of the time they don't want to do is EXHAUSTING! Adding lesson plans, PLCs, ARDs, extensions, differentiations, programs, and conferences to the mix can make you feel like you'd like to be placed in an induced coma.  
An induced coma.... YES, PLEASE!

But seriously. 

Despite all the reasons above, my number one reason for hating the end of the year is that I have to say goodbye to some of my favorite people on the planet.  I will miss all the hugs, smiles, and words of affirmation. I will miss those light bulb moments and those moments in which I could quite literally see a kid's confidence being raised.  The end of the year makes me sad because I know that a part of my life that I have loved living is over.  I will never have this same little family community again. I will never laugh at that one's jokes, or be amazed at that one's art, or even take a deep breath at that one's annoying behavior.  I will miss it all, but I will especially miss all my little sweeties!

This blog post is dedicated to my class of 2016. 

You have been extra special!

 End of Year Awards with MEMES

These awards are not only funny, but they'll make sure your students know that you appreciate exactly what makes them so special!  You're sure to find one for each of your students!

Click here to get them for yourself!

Clean Desk Award
Right-Hand Man Award
Avid Reader Award
Future Scientist Award
The Fearless Award
Good Attitude Award
Handwriting Award
The Cooperative Award
Computer Guru Award
Class Comedian Award
Peace Keeper Award
Deep Thinker Award
Good Leader Award
Good Listener Award
Mother Hen Award
Perseverance Award
Individuality Award
Task Master Award
Future Teacher Award
Mathematician Award
Good Friend Award
Artist Award
Most Dramatic Award
Most Inquisitive Award
The History Buff Award
The Poet Award
Teacher’s Pet Award
Homework Award
Spelling Award
Participation Award
Athletic Award
Best Helper Award
Quick Worker Award
Sweetness Award
Future Architect Award
Optimist Award
The Overcomer Award
Most Improved Award
Best Dressed Award
Innovator Award
Perfect Attendance Award
Best Singer Award
The Happy Award
Time Tracker Award
Free-Thinker Award
Go Green Award
Open-Minded Award
Sportsmanship Award
Good Manners Award
Best Smile Award


January 2, 2016

Using File Pockets to Keep Student Work Organized!

Staying organized saves me lots of time!  

This is what I've been using this year, and I have to say, I LOVE it!
Keep reading to see how it works!

Here are the basics:

One file sorter for each day of the week.
One file pocket for each assignment.

For each assignment, I put a blank copy of the assignment along with an attached class checklist in the front of the pocket.  As students complete their work, they know to turn it in behind my copy. I usually even have a fast finisher "get it started." The student finished first grabs a checklist and staples it to the extra copy and places it in a pocket. The students then turn the papers in number order and check their name off the attached checklist.   Click here to download a free Checklist Template!

Why have one for each day of the week?

Having a week's worth of organization helps me keep up with all the students' work, absent work, late work, and more!  Once the entire class has completed and turned in the assignment, I remove the stack from the pocket.  All the papers are together! Any late or absent work has already been notated on the checklist. The checklist is attached to the original assignment, so after I collect the papers,  I usually complete this copy and use it as a key!

Here are some details:

I put all extra copies in the file folder.  When students are absent, they know exactly where to go to find their absent work.  They know to grab whatever is in each pocket for the day!

Turning in student work this way is great for several reasons:

1. Kids always know where to go to turn in work.
2. You know immediately which kids haven't turned in their work.
3. The work is in alphabetical order so it makes putting grades into the grade book quick.
4. You can annotate the checklist with things like "absent" or "late".  Click here to download a free Checklist Template! I can also annotate things like "no name", "too sloppy" or other anecdotal records that I might otherwise forget.
5. I leave the student work in the pocket until everyone's work is completed and turned in.  In this way, I never have miscellaneous papers floating around.

I also use hanging file holders to interact with individual students!

Each student in my class has their own pocket.  Inside the file folder, I keep the students' weekly parent communication card. You can check out my $1.00 product for parent communication here! It is easily available for the students to grab and mark or for me to. Any other papers get placed outside of the folder. 


I'm a big believer in students correcting their mistakes on their work. Each afternoon, I place any student corrections in the pockets. Students can grab their work easily when they see it in their pocket.


Students turn their homework in this way each morning. I can instantly see if any students did not turn in their homework, and because the conduct card is located in the same pocket, it's very easy to mark the missing homework on their parent communication card. 

Fast Math

My students perfect their multiplication skills via my Fast Math program.  It's difficult to keep up with lots of students because each student works at their own pace in a completely individualized way. I use these pockets to quickly communicate to each student about what work they need to complete.

Why Use a File Pockets System?

  • It's organized!
  • It's much quicker than passing out papers to students or placing on their desks
  • It builds routine which creates better classroom management

I'd love to hear some of your favorite classroom management or organization systems! COMMENT BELOW!

December 12, 2015

These are a few of my favorite things....

I've been so busy creating and teaching that I haven't taken a moment to even think about what makes Christmas time so wonderful! I have so many memories of my own childhood and memories from when my kids were little. This Linky from Southern Fried Teaching got me sitting down and thinking of all the things I love! If you'd like to link up copy the images and post to your blog! Link up with all of us! 

1. My favorite Christmas song: O Holy Night
2. My guilty food: Lots of stuffing! YUM!!!
3. Tradition: Christmas eve with my parents and sisters, then Christmas morning with my husband's family! Being doing this same thing for over a decade.  
4. My favorite book: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
5. Act of kindness: I like to give to EVERY Salvation Army person outside of every store I visit! They get so excited when someone actually stops and gives!
6. Holiday memory: Getting my first Nintendo as a kid and playing all through the night with my dad!
7. Favorite Gift: my "Office Lady" setup! When I was about 12, my mom bought me a type writer, lots of file folders, binders, pens, and office supplies! It was PERFECT for me!
8. Craft: popcorn strings for the tree
9. Favorite movie: I love Jingle All the Way!
10. Favorite place to shop: Amazon!
11. I want Santa to bring me: some relaxation in the new year!
12. My favorite holiday product: Stuff a Stocking Christmas Math Activity!

I hope you have a Merry Season however you choose to celebrate!

September 13, 2015

Digital Notebook Paper

I'm always looking for new ways to use technology to help save resources, use my time more efficiently, and make my life easier.  I recently had the bright idea to create a digital notebook paper.  I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner!

It all started with my new teaching assignment: 4th grade ELA! (Actually, I'm self-contained, but the ELA part of my day is what is new to me!) In Texas, fourth graders must take the Writing STAAR achievement test, so much emphasis is placed on writing. (Click here for a FREE digital version of the STAAR composition paper!) I was excited for my new teaching assignment because I LOVE writing and I knew that I would get to share that passion with the students by modeling writing for them! I would model, model, model!!!! It wasn't long until I was using up chart paper and markers like they were going out of style! WE HADN'T EVEN STARTED NARRATIVES! And the worst part was that the kids were sitting around antsy while I wrote the BIG letters in GOOD handwriting on page after page!  Needless to say, I began to dread the modeling process! I knew that chart paper just wouldn't work any more! At least not for Impatient-Me!

Check out this awesome post by Teaching my Friends! She's amazing... and has much more patience for hand writing than me! I love this idea, but I would totally rather type it!

So, I created a digital version of notebook paper! 

All I have to do is project the Word file and type away!  How would you use digital paper to same time, money, and frustration in your class? Leave a comment!!!

Simple ideas are always the best ideas!

If you'd like to use this in your class, you can download it FREE from my TpT Store!

August 24, 2015

Caine's Arcade

Today was my official first day of school! 

I got to meet my students, and I'm already loving them all!

Caine's Arcade Learn innovation, perseverance, patience

For the past couple of "first days", I have shown my students a video about a young boy with unbridled passion and determination. Caine Monroy, now 12, became an instant sensation when a documentary maker happened upon his dad's auto parts store, which held Caine's cardboard arcade creation. From his Staff Shirt to his Fun Pass to his ticketing system, his ingenuity and creativity could be seen throughout his entire space.

I could go on and on about Caine, but I could never do his smile or spirit justice through my words. 


Today as I showed the video, I watched the expressions of my fourth grade students. It was a joy to see their little faces light up as Caine's dreams begin to take shape as reality. Afterward, we had amazing conversations about Caine and what made him so special.

Ever since I discovered Caine and his amazing arcade, I've tried to use his story to show my students that when passion and determination come together, great things happen! Check out these creations of kids who were inspired by Caine!


I encourage you to use Caine's story as a springboard for meaningful conversations with your own students. Click here to download a FREE Venn Diagram to use with your students! I guarantee it will be a lesson they'll remember!

Leave a message of today sharing your favorite thing about Caine, his arcade, or the video!

August 22, 2015

It's All About the Money

Howdy from a Texas gal excited for the opportunity to share with you on this AMAZING blog! I am a passionate person who finds her greatest joy in teaching. I hope I can teach you something today or at least give you the extra boost you've been needing to start your own financial literacy program in your class!


Is it the root of all evil or the savior of the civilized world? Regardless of how we interpret the theory of this evolved bartering system, there is no arguing the fact that money is an integral part of our everyday lives, and that learning how to make it, manage it, and invest it should be an essential part of our education system. Let’s face it, we see example after example of people who manage to make a fortune, only to end up ruined after a few years. Or, we see examples of people who grind away year after year, only to live paycheck to paycheck and never get ahead.
Not every one of our students will become doctors, lawyers, or engineers. In fact, not all of our students will even go to college. But one thing they will all definitely encounter as they progress in life is the need to manage money. I believe that this is the single most important way we as teachers can make an impact on our students’ lives.

So how can we make a difference?    

By integrating financial literacy into our classrooms!

Yes! I know our days are filled with PLC meetings, paper work, ARDs, test prep, and the like. There is little time for a bathroom break or a decent lunch, much less, time to fit in an extra program. But I will tell you from experience, there is NOTHING more rewarding than knowing that you have possibly altered the trajectory of a life by simply dedicating a few moments of your day to helping students discover what it means to become financially successful.

 In the next sections of this blog post, I’m going to share with you how I’ve found success in my own financial literacy program and then I’ll lay out a week-by-week schedule to help you run your classroom economy without getting overwhelmed in the process! You can use all your own thoughts and materials or you can check out everything I use in my classroom in my EDU-ENTERPRISES Financial Literacy Program at my TpT store.  DISCLAIMER: There is no clear right way or wrong way to invest in your students, and these are just the ways I’ve found that work for me.

My students must EARN every dollar they get! They can sometimes receive “bonuses” by going above and beyond in their work or actions, (Great for classroom management!) but the majority of their income—well at least before they begin investing- comes from their job. In my class, I limit the number of jobs available. This forces the students to become competitive in their application process and ensures them that if they fail to complete the job to the boss’ (MY) expectations, there will be someone waiting to snatch up their position. As the year progresses, students can make more money by investing into businesses, but more on that later.

In the beginning of the year, I always pay my students with some sort of paper currency. Here's a link to my FREE printable currency. Some kids hold on to it tightly, while others’ cash goes missing either to loss, bad trades, or (SADLY) theft. I don’t feel bad for them though. I secretly hope some of these misfortunes occur among the students so that they create real understanding of the importance of keeping their money safe. Some of these students find a sudden interest in opening a bank account. I offer my students two banking plan options: one with a monthly fee and one with a minimum balance, and I use a simple excel spreadsheet to keep track of their accounts. I also print debit cards (I don’t use credit because my students are a little younger) and require the students to have their debit card before completing any transactions.

In keeping to the real-life focus of my program, I require my students to pay monthly expenses such as a desk rental fee, and I never just give them replacement supplies for free. It’s no fun for the students to see their money go, but that’s life!

Some students find their true money-making abilities in entrepreneurship. Three times a year, I open up the classroom as a Market. Half the students are producers and half are consumers. I walk the producers through the process of planning, marketing, and running a successful business. It’s amazing how the students develop business sense so organically. One market day, a sweet little girl decided to provide brown paper sacks to her customers when they purchased her bracelets. The other businesses had not had the same foresight as she had.  As the customers loaded up on all their new purchases, they quickly realized that it was difficult to handle all their loot.  Before long, I heard a boy say that he was going to buy a bracelet just to get the brown paper bag. By the end of the sale, the little girl was out of bracelets and every single customer had a brown paper sack. Not surprisingly, when the next Market Day rolled around, almost every producer offered some sort of bag to their customers. An important lesson was learned by all of the students, and no direct teaching was required.

Follow my Market Days Pinterest Board for ideas for your students!

I share my pins with my students to help inspire them!

Implementing a quality financial literacy plan takes all year, but it doesn’t have to take all day.  In just a few minutes a week, your class can become a thriving economy.  Here’s a week-by-week schedule that can help you from getting overwhelmed in the process:

Before you get started, you will need to:

  • Think about what class jobs you’d like.
  • Think about what expenses your students will have to pay each month.
  • Decide which currencies you’d like to have in your classroom. Think about creating a spreadsheet in excel to use as your classroom bank or research other digital products that you can use. There are many cool resources available at low or no cost.  If your students have easy access to electronic devices, check out Bankaroo- it’s free! I’ve personally spoken with the owner of the application and am very excited to help educators discover this product. You’ll also need to decide when your bank will be open. It can be a small amount of time each day or each week.
  • Decide how many Market Day experiences you’d like to have during the year.  I usually do three sales per year so that the students have the opportunity to see their businesses grow as they use what they’ve learned to tweak their business practices. You can split your class into two groups and allow them to take turns being producers and consumers at the market day.

Still feeling overwhelmed? Check out my
Financial Literacy Program
It has everything you need so you'll be ready to go! 

Implementing Your Program Week by Week

Making Money
Managing Money
Investing Money
Introduce your class jobs and begin accepting applications.

Select your new employees.
Introduce bank accounts and begin accepting applications.

Begin accepting new job applications.
Have students pay their bills.

PAY DAY! Announce employee of the month! Select your new employees.


Introduce Market Day. Allow students to begin planning their business relationships and business plans.

Prepare consumers for market day by teaching them about writing checks, using debit cards, and keeping track of expenses.


Hold your first market day!
Making Money
Managing Money
Investing Money
Begin accepting new job applications.
Have students pay their bills. 
Have students reflect on what went well and what went poorly with their business.
PAY DAY! Announce employee of the month! Select your new employees.

Begin accepting new job applications.
 Have students pay their bills.

PAY DAY! Announce employee of the month! Select your new employees


Allow students to begin planning their business relationships and business plans for the next Market Day. If the student was a consumer on the last market day, I assign them producer for this one.

Prepare consumers for market day by teaching them about writing checks, using debit cards, and keeping track of expenses.


Hold Second Market Day
Making Money
Managing Money
Investing Money
Begin accepting new job applications.
 Have students pay their bills.
Have students reflect on what went well and what went poorly with their business.
PAY DAY! Announce employee of the month! Select your new employees.

Begin accepting new job applications.
Have students pay their bills. 

PAY DAY! Announce employee of the month! Select your new employees.


Allow students to begin planning their business relationships and business plans for the next Market Day. By now, all students should have experienced being both a producer and a consumer. I allow them to pick which role they’d like to have for our final market day.

Prepare consumers for market day by reviewing writing checks, using debit cards, and keeping track of expenses.


Hold Final Market Day
Making Money
Managing Money
Investing Money
Begin accepting new job applications.
Have students pay their bills. 
Have students reflect on what went well and what went poorly with their business.
PAY DAY! Announce employee of the month! Select your new employees.

Begin accepting new job applications.
Have students pay their bills. 

PAYDAY! Announce employee of the month! Select your new employees.


Have an end of year auction so students can spend all their money. I usually have students donate items to the auction. It teaches charity and saves the teacher from having to buy things to auction off.

Still have questions about starting your own classroom economy? Feel free to contact me at CassiNoack@gmail.com.
You can also visit my blog at cassinoackteach.blogspot.com
or my store at Cassi Noack Teach.

Cassi Noack is a wife, mother, and teacher from Tomball, Texas. With over a decade of teaching experience, she couples her creativity with what she's learned along her journey to help her students find success in the classroom. Cassi currently teaches a 4th grade self-contained class full of the best kids in Texas.